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Tire Loose On Nationals Buggy, But Still Hanging On By A Nut

[July 10th] - The Washington Nationals lost Sunday's game to the Philadelphia Phillies, limping into the all-star break having lost 5 out of their last 7 games. The good news is that the Braves lost their last two to the Brewers, and remain 2.5 games out of first place. In the Next few days, bodies will heal, arms will rest, and Jim Bowden will make a move, perhaps many moves, that will allow the Nats to continue their improbably run.

I'm very proud of the way the Washington Nationals lost today's game, 5-4, in 12 innings. Ryan Church was unavailable. Cristian Guzman was unavailable. Nick Johnson was unavailable. Tony Blanco was suffering from dizziness and was forced to pinch-run. Brian Schneider left the game with the same dizziness problem. It seemed the Nationals played the game with half a roster, which is about how they played the entire first half of the season.

From all reports, the Nationals will enter the second half of the season with all their starters healthy and ready. Hopefully, the team will have a new player [Preston Wilson maybe?] to add depth and power, both badly needed if this team is going anywhere the second half. Junior Spivey will be gone for 3 months, which really hurts, But Jose Vidro seems healthy and is certainly picking up offensively where he left off May 4th.

The pitching staff is in great shape. The bullpen is tired, and another arm couldn't hurt. But there is nothing in the cards that indicates the Nationals will fold in the second half. Health = hope; that should be the Nationals mantra for the rest of the year.

Let's all take a deep breath and tomorrow we'll take a close look at what we might expect during the second half of the season. Right field might provide us with an even bigger surprise, while 3rd base could become a real problem unless a trade is made for someone like Joe Randa. We'll use the all star break to take a close look at the Nats good and bad. Don't worry. There is a lot more good than bad. Except that 3rd base problem; I'm really beginning to worry about Vinny, he .....

As I warned, the Mets and Phillies series were tough. This is the tiredest team in baseball right now. But with the Phillies series it's important to note that over the three games the Phillies outscored the Nationals by just one run. That's the difference. Obviously we keep reiterating that the W-L ratio is all that matters, because it helps us avoid explaining why we're in first place to begin with. But still, no team in all of baseball is in more need of, and deserves more, the All Star Break.

One other thought. I can only hope that the Nationals don't share a curse with the Redskins, an inability to win games within their own division. Now, 18-18 is not exactly an inability to win games (the Phillies with they had those numbers, rather than 17-25), but it's out weakest number, and the most important in the second half of the season. The Nats need to win some major games against the Braves and the Marlins later this month to show that's not the case.
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